Now a pointless war?

By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE
UPI Editor at Large 

We should have declared the Afghan war won last May 3, the day after a U.S. SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden and buried him in the Arabian Sea. That was the advice given in Washington this week by a former spy chief who played a key role in the Saudi-Pakistan-U.S. alliance that defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in early 1989. The Soviet empire imploded nine months later.

U.S.- and British-educated, Prince Turki al-Faisal headed the Saudi intelligence service for 25 years until a few weeks before 9/11. He later became the Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom and then the United States before retiring from government service. He now runs the King Faisal Cultural Foundation, named after his late father.

“You sent Special Forces into Afghanistan on Oct. 7, less than one month after 9/11, to punish al-Qaida.,” Prince Turki said in Washington this week. “And you chased al-Qaida out of Afghanistan in the Battle of Tora Bora during the first 10 days of December as survivors, including bin Laden, escaped into Pakistan. That would have been another time to declare victory.”

Instead, the United States, its NATO allies and other friendly nations sent in more troops, ostensibly to keep punishing al-Qaida remnants in Afghanistan, estimated by the United States at 50 to 100 — the same number given 10 years later by newly sworn in U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

U.S. President Barack Obama was always against the Iraq war but campaigned on a pro-Afghan war platform “because that’s where al-Qaida is.” Actually, al-Qaida had left Afghanistan eight years before. And cynics say Obama had to be in favor of one war otherwise he would have been taxed with pacifism and anti-military attitudes.

Prince Turki sees nothing but stalemate on the Afghan horizon so what’s the point of wasting more blood and treasure and further eroding America’s NATO links?

Canada’s Afghan contingent was called home by an act of Parliament. So were Dutch troops. And the German military contribution is constantly under attack in the Bundestag as a war based on a falsehood, namely the erroneous official notion that some 5,000 German soldiers are there to fight international terrorism.

America’s European allies say the Afghan war is against a feudal theocracy, not al-Qaida. Polls indicate some 70 percent of Germans say they are against their military involvement.

Besides, the German contingent isn’t authorized to launch kinetic operations. They can only fight in self-defense.

The French are more interested in helping Libyan rebels and former French colonies in sub-Sahara Africa.

U.S. opinion is 65 percent against continuing what is seen increasingly as a pointless and costly war in both blood and treasure ($500 billion in 10 years). Based on casualty counts, today’s situation is worse than in 2009. In fact, August was the deadliest month for U.S. troops with 65 killed.

Under Obama’s plan, 10,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn by the end of this year and 23,000 by September 2012. And the rest of the 100,000 U.S. troops presently in-country to be out by 2014.

With Taliban knowing roughly the U.S. timetable, all they have to do is strike from time to time to show that they are still around, and avoid hitting infrastructure, including schools, roads and communications, built by U.S contractors, they now know they will inherit.

A Foreign Policy magazine article headlined, “Mission Accomplished. Finally” echoed the growing sentiment that 10 years after 9/11, it’s time for Obama to call an end “to America’s adventures abroad.”

The cognoscenti say that waiting till 2014 to exit will be Vietnam redux. Three more years of bad news is bound to be interrupted by a congressional vote demanding an immediate end to hostilities and formal negotiations with Taliban for a cease-fire to begin to wind things down.

Those who argue against a cease-fire to facilitate a withdrawal say that Taliban will simply invite al-Qaida back.

To which the stand pat school retorts, “Why would Mullah Omar, the titular head of the Taliban, ask back those responsible for the loss of his country?” He has indicated more than once to Pakistani interlocutors that he isn’t in the business of international terrorism. And if a new post-war Afghan regime were foolish enough to invite al-Qaida back, he knows that U.S. air power could flatten the country he, Mullah Omar, had just recovered.

So far, the War on Terror, including Homeland Defense, Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending geared specifically to these two wars, U.S. and foreign contractors, military death benefits, long-term care for wounded, has cost an estimated $5 trillion — all on Uncle Sam’s credit card.

U.S. and coalition military killed in action in Iraq: 4,800. In Afghanistan: 2,800. U.S. military wounded in action: 44,000. U.S. military suicides since 2001: 2,130. Civilians killed: about 900,000 Iraqis and 30,000 Afghans.

The geopolitical toll is staggering. In Iraq today, Iran has more influence than the United States and in Afghanistan there is no solution without Taliban.

NOTE:A CROSS POST FROM WASHINGTON POST.

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Comments

  • Tasneem Hassan  On September 10, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Excellent Reply for Last night press Conference of Altaf Hussain (the Chief Mahajir) ! Canada’s Afghan contingent was called home by an act of Parliament. So were Dutch troops. And the German military contribution is constantly under attack in the Bundestag as a war based on a falsehood, namely the erroneous official notion that some 5,000 German soldiers are there to fight international terrorism.

    America’s European allies say the Afghan war is against a feudal theocracy, not al-Qaida. Polls

    • S U Turkman  On September 10, 2011 at 2:07 am

      What did Altaf say?
      Did he say, he is for US Troops in Afghanistan?
      Does anybody remember, it was Decision of Pak Army Generals to act like they were with USA in her War against Terrorism in 2001 to avoid getting Pak Army bombed to Stone Age, not Altaf’s?

  • Parvez Amin  On September 10, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Are you willing to consider that there may be reasons, other than those discussed by you, for which America is still not willing to leave? In a few words the reasons could be greed for the fossil and mineral wealth of the region. My suggestion make deal that lets you buy what you want instead of trying to steal it through force. What could obstruct this approach? The need for the American Military Industrial Complex to keep its factories running and its enormous labor force paid – we will ignore the billions being made by the shareholders.

    • S U Turkman  On September 10, 2011 at 2:19 am

      Oh yeah, yeah Afghanistan have a lot of Oil, Gas and Gold. She was the richest country on Earth before USA occupied it. This is all USA has been doing since WW II. US Army is still in Germany, Japan, Italy and other European Countries and those countries are also under US Occupation. USA has been looting those countries because of her ‘greed of fossil and mineral wealth’. This is why all those countries can not advance and are so poverty stricken compared to our great advanced filthy rich Pakistan and Afghanistan that have invented almost all the major modern Inventions.
      Its Military and its Industrial Complex that has been running USA and Military has been in power directly or indirectly for 47 out of last 55 years, when we have purest form of Democracy since 1947. This is the reason USA is such a backwards poverty-stricken country living off Pakistan’s Charity and Loans for the since 1950’s.

  • S U Turkman  On September 10, 2011 at 2:24 am

    The People who think, USA should leave Afghanistan are right. USA should leave and when Pak Army disguised as Taliban and its Mercenaries called Taliban attack Afghanistan again, USA should just start bombing Pak Army because Obama does not realize, he is not fighting with Al Qaeda and Taliban, he is fighting with Pak Army pretending to be a friend of USA to get all the Charity and Loans it can get. You see, 21st Century Islam means, lying, cheating, blackmailing and covert back-stabbing.
    Our Prophet must be turning in his Grave learning about antics of Pakistanis.
    SoobHaan Allah …!

  • Sharique Usmani  On September 10, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Inteteresting analysis by WP. But alas American establishment in power is like our establishment, it does not know when to get out.

    Regards
    Shaiq Usmani
    Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone provided by Ufone

  • m siddiq  On September 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Militarism helps build the economy for some…at least in the short term.

  • SB  On September 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Due to the follies of the neo-cons Binladen accomplished he did not imagine in his wildest dreams. He bankrupted the United States. This is what happens when you have minions at the helm of affairs. Even Obama though not a minion finds it so difficult to get the economy back on rails.

    The mightiest of the mighty is afraid to go to war not for the fear of loosing but for the unpredictable consequences of war. Great leaders know that they cannot act God. But some fools like Bush do. See what happens.

    I want to draw a parallel to the situation in Karachi. Urdus may not be good with weapons nor good at fighting. But back to the walls they are likely to put up a fight because they have no where to go as the ANP which has KPK to go to. And even if the anti-Urdus prevail only Allah will know the unpredictable consequences.

    When mighty empires have perished and now super powers, any thing can happen. I appeal to authorities that matter, to do justice. Do not artificially play with demographics, a natural process is something else. Develop KPK to stop destroying Karachi. If Karachi is destroyed and becomes another tribal ilaqa ghair (lawless area), Pakistan will be the looser.

    Stop the narrow minded from dividing people. When people start dividing and you create hatred then the nation divides.

    I appeal to Punjabis, Pakhtuns, Sindhies, Baluchs, Kashmiris and all in power to do something positive to understand this to save Pakistan. I appeal to them to talk of love and bringing people together instead of distancing them.

    PPP should immediately expel Zulfiqar Mirza from the party and the president should come forward embrace one and all and show leadership for all Pakistanis from Kashmir to Karachi. Become a leader of all Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs still living in Pakistan.

    High time to show big heart, vision and leadership. If not now when will someone show leadership?

    • Parvez Amin  On September 11, 2011 at 5:00 am

      You are right on all counts. Madadgar Pakistan, a new systems based political party has set out to do just that and more. I believe people will rally around it soon after its public launch. Madadgar Pakistan, will revolutionize the practice of democratic politics, through practically launching in its purest form, ‘A government of the people, for the people, by the people…’

  • Mohammad Chaudhry  On September 11, 2011 at 4:04 am

    It’s a very objective evaluation by a seasoned professional and insider, in direct correspondence with Proff.William’s ,an Harvard collegue of Obama and seasoned political advisor and analyst of Obama who wrote an open letter to President Obama,released through internet and print media. Obama administration has to get out of the rut and learn to use its analytical evaluation of ground realities in 2011 by shedding off the Manichean mind-set of Bush era ,to be able to undertake right line of action.
    MSC

    • S. Cadri  On September 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      The mightiest of the mighty is afraid to go to war not for the fear of loosing but for the unpredictable consequences of war… but some fools rush in.
      Due to the follies of the neo-cons Binladen accomplished he did not imagine in his wildest dreams. He bankrupted the United States. This is what happens when you have minions at the helm of affairs. Even Obama though not a minion finds it so difficult to get the economy back on rails.
      The mightiest of the mighty is afraid to go to war not for the fear of loosing but for the unpredictable consequences of war. Great leaders know that they cannot act God. But some fools like Bush do. See what happens. Britain won the WWII but lost the empire. So many have won battles but lost wars. History is replete with hundreds of examples.
      I want to draw a parallel to the situation in Karachi. Urdus may not be good with weapons nor good at fighting. But back to the walls they are likely to put up a fight because they have no where to go as the ANP which has KPK to go to. And even if the anti-Urdus prevail only Allah will know the unpredictable consequences.
      When mighty empires have perished and now super powers, any thing can happen. I appeal to authorities that matter, to do justice. Do not artificially play with demographics, a natural process is something else. Develop KPK to stop destroying Karachi. If Karachi is destroyed and becomes another tribal ilaqa ghair (lawless area), Pakistan will be the looser.
      Stop the narrow minded from dividing people. When people start dividing and you create hatred then the nation divides.
      I appeal to Punjabis, Pakhtuns, Sindhies, Baluchs, Kashmiris and all in power to do something positive to understand this to save Pakistan. I appeal to them to talk of love and bringing people together instead of distancing them.
      PPP should immediately expel Zulfiqar Mirza from the party and the president should come forward embrace one and all and show leadership for all Pakistanis from Kashmir to Karachi. Become a leader of all Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs still living in Pakistan.
      High time to show big heart, vision and leadership. If not now when will someone show leadership?

      • Sabz Bagh  On September 12, 2011 at 1:35 am

        To,

        Mr. M. Chaudhry.

        Don’t you think the spelling of the word, i.e; collegue seems to be WRONG?

        Please check & confirm, if it should be as word, ‘colleague’ instead ?

        Thanks.

      • S U Turkman  On September 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm

        Mr. Cadri, total Domestic Deficit of USA is $ 7.8 trillion and Foreign Debt $ 8.4 trillion. Total Expense of Iraq Invasion, Afghanistan Invasion, Aid Charity to Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan plus $ 180,000 each compensation given to all Relatives of Victims of 9/11 (including about 2 dozen Moslim Families) is $ 1 trillion. So, Osama has contributed to US Deficit but it was not so much to cause USA go bankrupt.
        Sure if Pakistan had as much Foreign Debt as one year of her GDP like USA has, she would have hard time getting more Foreign Loans to survive but this is not the case with USA because US Dollar is Fiat Currency of the world. USA can just print more Dollars and pay all off it Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, Taiwan, S Korea, India, Singapore etc and other countries want it that way. They do not because it would devalue Dollar and that would reduce their exports to USA drastically causing their Economies to stall. They keep devaluing their own currencies instead to export more to USA and earn more Foreign Exchange because USA buys 1/3rd of all Exports in the world.
        Domestic Budget Deficit is entirely a different thing. No country in this world has to get approval of Parliament to print more money or sell more Treasury Bills like USA. Pakistan has printed hundreds of times more than its GDP since 1948 and never had a balanced budget in last 64 years. In comparison, USA used to have no Deficit until 2000 and Pres. Clinton had left a Surplus instead.
        USA’s Domestic Deficit problem is just Budgetary. All Obama has to do is, stop all the Tax Breaks and Tax Reductions that his opposition party had granted to the richest 2% of Americans.
        Karachi Problem has been instigated by ISI to divert world’s attention from Army Action in Baluchistan and thousands of killings of Pakistanis by Taliban the ‘un-regular secret Army of Pakistan. The other purpose is to tell USA that Zardari is not competent and Pakistan needs Army Rule.

  • ID  On September 11, 2011 at 4:26 am

    This is how the great powers lose their economy and power because of the unsustainable burdens they acquire & exhaust their resources in unproductive ventures to eventually die out.
    id

  • nabeela badruddin  On September 11, 2011 at 7:33 am

    yup now america is increasing its responsibilites
    trying to be more powerful and now going to crash

  • nabeela badruddin  On September 11, 2011 at 7:34 am

    a new systems based political party has set out to do just that and more. I believe people will rally around it soon after its public launch. Madadgar Pakistan

  • Agha Gul  On September 12, 2011 at 7:13 am

    No, this is NOT a pointless war for US.
    There is street talk in Quetta, that the Taliban and US have agreed on ALL POINTS except, the date of withdrawal from all the Bases, which the US forces are insisting must be allowed to stay put, till an unspecified date. This, and the history of last 10 years amply suggest that there is a world of difference between the Stated Aim of US and the Latent/True Aim of US invasion of Afghanistan.

    Whether Bush understood and did it knowingly or was hijacked in his naivety by the Ever-Patriotic Establishment, besides the point, but the US invasion was not meant for Al Qaida/Osama or Mulla Omar. It was to establish a strategic presence in the geopolitical core of the Crush Zone of Asia. A look at the map indicates, energy-rich Central Asian Republics and Russia in the North, China in the West, Pakistan and Iran in the East/South. There are critical US strategic goals, ambitions and aspirations in all of these directions.

    With the Albatros of regional/global aspirations hanging around their neck, why would US pull out of Afghanistan? Indeed, why would not the US have invaded Afghanistan in the first place?
    The story has it that Gen Mahmood, the then DG ISI tried assuring CIA that given a month or so, he would deliver Osama to US. But US did not wish to wait, read, Had to invade Afghanistan!

    The reasons which can make US beat a hurried withdrawal are, the economic woes and the next election, where voices are already being raised for unloading global policeman’s role and cutingt down humongous deficit.
    AG.

    • S U Turkman  On September 12, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Yeah, yeah.
      * USA wants to go to war with Russia or at least blackmail her just like Pakistan keeps blackmailing India by Terrorism, right?
      * USA does not know, Qatar a country of just 800,000 people has more Natural Gas and Oil than all the countries north of Afghanistan, right?
      * USA is such a stupid country that instead of invading Qatar, she invaded Afghanistan, where there is no Oil and Natural Gas, right?
      * USA does not know, going to war with any of the countries north of Afghanistan is same as going to war with Russia because all those countries are a part of Russian Commonwealth and have a Defense Pact with Russia, right?
      * USA needs presence in Afghanistan to spy on China over the Pamir Mountain because USA does not have any presence in China since 1981, when American Industrialists had started moving their factories to China, right?
      .
      Sounds like Commenter has no General Knowledge. Just like ISI and Pak Army Generals, Afgha Gul sounds like 15th Century man, who has no idea, how this 21st Century world is being run.

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